Spam is the bane of just about every blog owner on the planet, and it gets to be overwhelming at times and you just end up throwing your hands up in the air and saying “to heck with it, let it go through!” Well, Google thinks that’s a bad enough idea that it is prepared to penalize your search engine ranking over it.
A couple of weeks ago on the Google Webmaster Blog, there was a post that laid down the law when it comes to blog comment spam. Basically it came down to, “don’t let it through to your blog, or we’ll penalize your search engine ranking.” It didn’t really mince words, but the solutions it suggested are rather extreme when there are so many simple solutions. Lets take a look at their suggestions one by one:
Disallow anonymous posting
This seems like an easy solution, but in my personal experience, anonymous commenters have value to add to a conversation. Sure it would be nice to see them use their real name, but it isn’t always possible due to any multitude of reasons. There are ways to fight it without completely disabling it, and we’ll cover that in a moment.
Use CAPTCHAs and other methods to prevent automated comment spamming
Nothing wrong with this idea so long as you choose a CAPTCHA system that is actually legible compared to some of the poor choices out there. Nothing like annoying readers with unreadable CAPTCHAs
Turn on comment moderation
A perfectly reasonable suggestion, but if you are running WordPress, which most serious bloggers do, there are numerous anti-spam plugins that can give you more sophisticated comment moderation than the built-in one does.
Use the “nofollow” attribute for links in the comment field
This is kind of a double-edged sword. If you use “nofollow” you give no reward to the spammers, but isn’t it kind of a smack in the face to your loyal readers? Wouldn’t you like the comment you leave on a blog to give you a follow credit? Sure you should leave the comment to add to the conversation, but the follow search engine juice is a form of bonus, almost a “thank you.” It’s up to each individual blogger, but “nofollow” always seems a bit extreme.
Disallow hyperlinks in comments
This one has pros and cons. If a commenter has a point to make and needs to site a source, how do they do it without a hyperlink?
Block comment pages using robots.txt or meta tags
Again, see the “nofollow” answer because this is essentially the same thing.
So, what do you do? Well, as most of you are probably using WordPress, why don’t you explore some of the comment plugins that are available? Askimet, which is built into WordPress is a decent system, but managed comment systems such as Disqus and Intense Debate add more tools to your arsenal. They give you the ability to add further moderation, allow users to have a login across any other blogs that use the same systems and give them the ability to have a more universal online identity. Managed comment systems are basically a win-win situation for both bloggers and commenters.
So what are your solutions for controlling spam comments? How do you keep them out of your site and from ruining your search engine rankings?